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Friday, April 28, 2000

Legalizing public
breast-feeding lauded
as ending discrimination

By Rosemarie Bernardo


A House-Senate conference committee passed a bill that would make it legal for women to breast-feed in public places.

Legislature 2000 Christiane Sodersten, mother of a 9-month-old boy, Cairo, said, "A bill that protects a woman's right to breast-feed in public is important."

Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Liliha) said the bill would prohibit persons from discriminating in public places against breast-feeding mothers. "I think it's a first step to set state policies supportive of breast-feeding and support for mothers and their children," she said.

The bill would allow women who breast-feed to take alleged violators of their rights to district court. A judge could levy a $100 fine against the violator, award attorney's fees and costs to the complainant and issue an order requiring compliance, said Rep. Scott Saiki (D, McCully), member of the House and Senate Conference Committee.

The full House and Senate will vote on the bill next week.

Rep. Marilyn Lee (D, Mililani), who introduced the bill, said: "We have tried so hard to make the rights of women and children equal to those of others."

Rose Schilt, executive director for Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, said, "Breast-feeding women will no longer have to go elsewhere to breast-feed."

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